Unravel Me — “Shatter Me” Series

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Book Review

In Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi, Juliette lived in isolation as a child because her touch kills. Now a young woman, she learns to channel her power to help fight an oppressive government. It is the second book in the “Shatter Me” series.

Plot Summary

Juliette has been hiding within the safety of Omega Point, a bunker/training facility/mutant zone, for the past two weeks. Although at first relieved to learn that other mutants exist, she finds herself sinking into despair. The others have powers to heal, direct electrical currents or become invisible. Only she has skin that, when touched, can kill. The others inside the bunker fear her because she is deadly.

Castle, the man who built and leads Omega Point, has faith that Juliette can learn to harness her power. He also believes, after hearing the story of how she and her boyfriend, Adam, escaped from the soldiers of the Reestablishment, that she has incredible strength inside that could be used to help Omega Point’s rebellion against the government. Juliette has no idea how she has been able to break through cement walls, as the ability only comes when she is in an intense emotional situation. Castle leaves her in a training room with a pile of bricks to see if she can learn to call the power forth when she is calm, but her failure deepens her depression.

She only feels alive when she spends time with Adam, the first person to ever show her love, and the first able to touch her without dying. But Omega Point separates male and female living quarters, and Adam’s own training leaves them little time to be together. Juliette is worried because Adam will not confide what his power is to her.

Juliette insists Adam’s best friend, Kenji, show her Adam’s training. Kenji only agrees to take her after she uses her super strength to pin him to a wall. She is horrified to see Adam strapped down while Castle apparently tortures him. Even after Castle reassures her that although painful, the experiments will help both Adam and the scientists in Omega Point, Juliette is enraged. In her anger she punches the floor and the ground shakes. She faints in pain and exhaustion.

She wakes in the medical wing. She has been unconscious for several days. Kenji asks if she is really his friend, or if she is an agent of the Reestablishment as her stunt nearly caused the walls of the bunker to cave. Juliette promises she wants to help the others in Omega Point. She agrees to start training with him in the morning.

When Juliette returns to her room, she finds Castle and Adam waiting for her. Adam admits that his mutation allows him to disable another mutant’s abilities. When he touches Juliette, all his energy goes to stopping her from killing him. As they become more physical, the effort to prevent that pain is actually exhausting him. Added to this is the fact that because Adam does not fear Juliette, his mutation does not always block the pain her touch inflicts. When left alone, Adam insists he can control his response. The two begin to passionately kiss until Juliette realizes her touch has caused Adam to stop breathing. He is taken to the medical wing, and she knows she must end their relationship to save his life.

In an effort to distract Juliette and help her to fit in with the rest of the people in Omega Point, Castle allows her to go on patrol in the districts. Their goal is to steal supplies from the Reestablishment. While above ground, Juliette sees Warner, the commander of Sector 45 and her former captor. Although only 20, Warner is a ruthless, violent officer of the government. He has also confessed his love to Juliette and is the only other person who can touch her without feeling pain. Juliette spies on him and is surprised to see him act compassionately toward a stray dog.

The following morning, Kenji tries to convince Juliette that her abilities are a gift, not a curse. She only needs to learn how to control them. He helps her channel her anger as she holds a brick. She pulverizes it. Kenji is ecstatic, but it only adds to Juliette’s depression. Everything about her is deadly, and she fears causing more pain.

Castle calls Kenji, Adam and Juliette to his office in the middle of the night. The supreme commander, Warner’s father, has arrived in Sector 45. He has captured four members of Omega Point and will return them only if Juliette agrees to negotiate with him. Kenji and Adam will go with her, but as Kenji’s power allows him and anyone he touches to be invisible, they will be unseen.

Warner’s father greets Juliette in the doorway of a house in the district. He is every bit as handsome as his son, and every bit as cruel. His soldiers are waiting to apprehend any other “aberrations” that followed her above ground, but he is unsure what to do about her. It seems Warner has begged his father to let her live.

As Warner has never asked for anything, the supreme commander is intrigued. He calls Warner in from another room and orders his son to kill her. Instead, Warner points the gun at his father. The supreme commander pulls another gun and threatens to shoot Juliette. When Warner falters, his father disarms, hits and humiliates him.

Juliette, in a rage, pins the supreme commander against a wall until he drops his gun. Then she shoots him in both knees before aiming at his heart. Kenji arrives and pulls her arm so the bullet hits a window. He drugs Warner into unconsciousness.

Adam has rescued two of their comrades and returns to help Kenji and Juliette. He is shocked to realize that the supreme commander is his father. Kenji forces Juliette and Adam to leave the house. Reestablishment soldiers attack, but Juliette uses her incredible strength to split the ground and cause a small earthquake.

Adam confesses how he had barely known his father. His mother used to hide him and his younger brother from view when his father came to the house. When their mother died, their father only visited to get drunk and beat him. Eventually, the visits stopped. They received a letter that said their father had died. As the supreme commander never allowed pictures of himself to be released, Adam never realized who he was. Adam vows he will kill his father.

Warner is held hostage within Omega Point, and Castle wants Juliette to be in charge of his interrogation. Although thrilled at his confidence in her, Juliette is secretly terrified. She has not told anyone that Warner can touch her. Fortunately, Warner soon admits his ability to Castle.

As Castle has vowed to help anyone with mutant abilities, he sets Warner free within the compound. Warner warns Juliette of his father’s plans. The following day, soldiers will round up all the civilians in the district and kill them. The hope is it will draw the resistance out to fight so they can be defeated. If those in Omega Point do not fight, the supreme commander knows no one else above ground will talk further about rebellion.

Warner meets up with Juliette and Adam in a corridor. The two men begin to fight. When Kenji and Juliette try to pull them apart, Kenji drops to the ground in intense pain. At first, Juliette believes Kenji touched her skin, but Warner admits what happened. He has the ability to take other mutants’ powers. As Juliette was pushing him away from Adam, her ability flowed through him. He then channeled it to Kenji. Kenji will survive, but is taken to the medical wing, unconscious.

As the people in Omega Point ready for battle in the morning, Warner comes to Juliette’s room at night. He asks her to leave with him. Even though he hates his father, he will not fight against the Reestablishment, as he believes it to be a lost cause. In her dark room, he touches her skin and begins passionately kissing her. He carries her to her bed. As they continue to kiss, he asks her to call him by his real name, Aaron. In that moment, she remembers Adam and says his name instead. Warner is hurt and furious. He escapes Omega Point that night.

In the morning, Juliette, Adam, Kenji and all those capable of fighting head above ground. The massacre has already begun. Civilians are being rounded up and shot. Juliette is captured by soldiers and brought to the supreme commander’s house in the district.

The supreme commander waits until Warner arrives to tell them both of his plan. His soldiers have found the two healers from Omega Point. They will be used to heal his legs, which Juliette crippled when she shot his knees. As for Juliette, justice must be served. As Warner watches, his father shoots her in the chest.

Juliette wakes some time later. The supreme commander left as soon as he shot Juliette, leaving his son to watch her die. Warner, however, had the healers from Omega Point brought to the house and channeled their powers through his own hands to save Juliette. Her fear of her power is gone. She awakens with the desire to destroy the supreme commander and the Reestablishment with her bare hands.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

Castle teaches that matter is not created or destroyed, which means Juliette and the other mutants gathered their energy and ability from the universe, from other Energies.

Authority Roles

Juliette’s parents sent her away as a child to psychiatric hospitals and juvenile jail because they feared her. Adam and Warner’s father, the supreme commander, is a violent, judgmental and vindictive man. He loved Adam’s mother but hated Adam and his younger brother. After their mother’s death, he would visit, get drunk and beat Adam. His behavior toward Warner is just as despicable, and he humiliates and beats his son.

Profanity & Violence

God’s name is used alone and with oh my, d–n and forsaken. Jesus is used as an exclamation. A– is used alone and with smart, hole, bad and jack. S— is used alone and with holy and bull. D–n, d–nit and b–tard are also used. Other objectionable words are p—ed, freaking and d–k.

Adam tells Warner to go to h—. Warner does not disagree with the notion that he will eventually go there. Warner has a quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest tattooed on his lower back: “H— is empty, and all the devils are here.”

This is a violent world, and Juliette is an emotionally driven young woman who cannot contain her supernatural abilities. When she was much younger, she accidently killed a toddler when she touched him while trying to console him. She remembers how Warner forced her to touch another toddler, causing the child immense pain in order to save the boy’s life. The first time her incredible strength immerged was when she broke through a concrete wall in anger.

Juliette pins Kenji against a wall in an effort to get him to take her to Adam. Although the exact nature of the experiment is not described, Juliette perceives that Castle is torturing Adam during his training. Adam is strapped to a gurney with wires taped to his temples. He convulses in intense pain. Juliette, furious, punches the ground so hard that it causes a minor earthquake, nearly destroying the walls of Omega Point. Later, in a fit of passion, Juliette almost kills Adam as her touch stops him from breathing.

With a gloved hand to avoid her skin, Warner’s father pins Juliette against a wall by her throat. She believes he is going to kill her, but once he disarms her of her guns, he lets her go. He calls Warner in and tells him to shoot her. Instead, Warner points the gun at his father. His father recalls the 10 previous times Warner threatened to kill him. Warner’s father points his own gun at Juliette.

When Warner falters, his father disarms him, slaps him and verbally humiliates him, sparking Juliette’s anger. She pins the supreme commander to the wall. She takes his gun and shoots both of his knees. She revels in the power she has over him and in his agony. Kenji, invisible, stops her from killing the commander.

The mutants at Omega Point use their powers to prevent being slaughtered by Reestablishment soldiers. A woman throws projectiles from a tree with speed and precision. Castle creates a cyclone of sharp debris that he sets loose on the soldiers, impaling them with glass, stone and metal. Juliette again hits the ground with her fist and creates a tremor in the ground that causes the soldiers to lose their footing and become disorientated.

After his mother died, Adam’s father would visit their home just to get drunk and beat him. He would throw his empty liquor bottles at Adam. It is intimated that if Adam flinched, he would get a worse beating.

After reading Juliette’s diary, in which she describes wanting to run away from the people who caused her pain, Warner admits he dreamed of finding those people and ripping them apart, limb from limb. He reminds Juliette that for as much as she claims to not want to hurt others, she had no problem shooting him when she wanted to escape.

Warner and Adam fight over Juliette, pushing and shoving each other. Juliette and Kenji try to stop them. Warner channels Juliette’s energy into Kenji, nearly killing him.

Reestablishment soldiers round up innocent civilians and shoot them. Juliette, Kenji and Adam shoot at the soldiers to stop them. They then come across many dead bodies.

Juliette is tackled and has a gun pointed to her head. She uses her strength to crush all the bones in her attacker’s arm. Three more soldiers force her to the ground. One hits her in the back of the head, rendering her unconscious.

Warner’s father shoots Juliette in the chest. She describes the pain and how it feels to be dying. Warner brings two healers from Omega Point in to save her. When she wakes, Juliette is filled with the desire to use her powers to kill.

Sexual Content

Juliette and Adam kiss passionately several times. As Juliette’s touch actually draws power from other people, she often loses control in the extreme emotions she feels when she is intimate with him. This causes problems when Adam is not able to block her ability and so succumbs to the pain of her touch.

Warner’s father is surprised by Juliette’s beauty. He intimates that he may take her back to his headquarters and use her for his own entertainment.

Warner comes to Juliette’s bedroom before he leaves Omega Point. As he is able to touch her without any repercussions, except his own euphoria at sharing her energy, the two become very passionate. Warner takes off her pants and shirt and carries her to her bed. She describes in detail how he kisses her whole body and how it responds to him physically.

Discussion Topics

None.

Additional Comments

Alcohol: We are told that Adam’s father, the supreme commander, would regularly get drunk and beat him.

Tattoo: Warner has several tattoos. One says “ignite” and the other is a quote from Shakespeare.

Stealing: The people in Omega Point steal food and supplies from Reestablishment warehouses.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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